At Sony Ericsson's MWC 2011 press event today, the mobile phone manufacturer officially unveiled its Xperia Play phone.
As the first "PlayStation certified" smartphone, it will be powered by the latest version of Google's Android platform "Gingerbread." Its expected to launch worldwide this March, with Verizon consumers in the United States getting a crack at it first.
The Play will be the first Android phone to ship with and support Sony's upcoming PlayStation Suite, allowing users to purchase PS Network content through the PlayStation Store. While Sony is promising both new and classic PS One titles on the store, that content won't be available at launch. Sony's Kazuo Hirai, however, confirmed a "legendary PS One title" will come pre-loaded with the Play.
Additionally, the Play's software will include an Xperia Play game launcher, where consumers will be able to purchase "premium content" that will be "optimized" for the device. Trendy Entertainment's Unreal Engine-powered action/tower defense game was demoed live, controllable using the device's PS-style physical controls which slide out from below the screen. In action it looked silky smooth, with sharp, bright visuals on the Play's touch screen.
Also on board to provide games will be Electronic Arts, Gameloft, and Glu Mobile. EA will be bringing FIFA to the platform, which will feature full multiplayer for the first time on a smartphone, as well as an Android version of Dead Space.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the press conference was the announcement of a partnership with Unity Technologies. The company's widely-used and powerful Unity Engine and game development tools have been optimized for Android and the Play. With these tools available, it opens up the gates for the 350,000 using the engine to quickly and smoothly port their games for consumers to use on the Xperia Play. (If this means we can play Minotaur China Shop on the toilet, this is a win.)
While this isn't quite the "PlayStation Phone," it might be as close as we can expect for the foreseeable future. While there are plenty of blanks that still need to be filled in, based on these early details, what do you think?
Sony Ericsson Xperia™ PLAY Key Features:
- PlayStation Certified gaming experience
- Latest version of the Android platform (Gingerbread version 2.3)
- 60fps play-back enabled through the Snapdragon 1Ghz processor, optimized with enhanced graphical processor unit the Adreno 205
- Dedicated gaming controls for real console quality game play, including four-way directional keys, recognizable ABCD keys with PlayStation iconography, left/right shoulder keys and two analog touch inputs for joystick action
- 4-inch brilliant multi-touch display
5.0 megapixel camera